The sound of hope doesn’t always look like what you’d expect

I heard it.  I know I did!

Wait…  there it is again…

Did you hear that?

Some friends, and the masses on Facebook, have been shouting out the fact that they’ve been seeing birds – whole flocks of them.  They talk of the “sounds of spring” but we’ve still a good 12-18 inches of crusted hard-packed snow in the front yard and ice on the sidewalks.  The spring they speak of doesnt even begin to feel as if it is right around the corner.  At this time of year we are all desperate for a little hope that there is actually life after this frozen winter fare.

Laying in bed with the sun streaming in my window, however, I began to feel giddy.  A grin spread across my face cheshire cat like.  I giggled right out loud.

There it was again!  A lone bird was sending up a song.  I could barely hear it over the space heater but it was there.  I put my feet down onto the freezing hardwood floor and wrapped a snug plush robe around my shivering body.  I slippered my feet and padded down the hall in search of the sound of hope.  I opened the drapes to the frozen tundra out my front windows and looked around.  Nothing.  My smile held however, because I was sure I had heard it.  They’d be back.

A bowl of cereal in hand, I sat and waited.  I didnt wait long when three large black crows landed in the tree out front.  I ignored them and focused on eating and waiting.  I hoped those big black monsters didn’t scare away the beautiful songbird of this morning, however.

I began to watch them, and their gruff interaction with each other.  They were like three bratty brothers.  Two flew away and the one left with is victory roost fluffed out his wings, lifted his head skyward, and shouted his declaration.  I sat there dumbfounded.  My grin from earlier was replaced with a confused one.  Seriously?

The sound of hope was a large black CROW?  It was much clearer now, the sound no longer covered by a fan spinning heat next to me… but it was most assuredly the same.  He swooped down and landed near my window seat.  He was so opposite my mind’s initial impression, having heard of flocks of tiny birds, puffed up robins, and some beautiful red cardinals.  My image of hope was in the tiny sweet little birds, whom I love to watch all spring,  digging into my yard for little snacks in the mornings as I dine.

But a crow?  A large, squawking, somewhat unpleasant fellow?  HE is my songbird of hope this cold morning?

As I sat finishing my breakfast, I wondered to myself, how many times have I missed a sign of hope, of help, of love because it didn’t come from what I expected?  How many times did I walk right by it?  Did I even hold it in my hands and dismiss it?  I realized that I put much of my life into box like categories, with drawers and labels… and if something doesn’t fit into the box, I just simply toss it.  I sat and looked on in awe.

The large boy threw back his head and let out a long, loud, hope-filled caw and took flight.  His wings were long and strong.  He lifted off and circled around the tiny yard before shooting off down the street.  Was he sent here just for me, to challenge my boxes, and to rewrite my image of hope?

I am on a rocky path, one that feels full of potholes and sharp turns.  There are thorny bushes growing near the edge of the road, and yet, a single tiny flower will pop up and grow in the most unusual places, sending me hope and comfort.  Today that hope came in the form of a black bird with wings.  Today he took flight and taught my heart to soar with him.  I may not know what’s around the corner, but I do know that my heart is strong and sure.   I am ready to lift my head and shout the victory like he did in that tree.

“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11)

I believe it with all my heart – even if You, God, choose to bring that plan and hope in the most unexpected ways!


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